We’re thrilled to kick off a new Ticketmaster Insider series with Super Bowl champion and Bengals linebacker A.J. Hawk. A.J.’s not only an incredible athlete, he’s also a total music lover and live entertainment fanatic. He named his kids Lennon and Hendrix after all. A.J. will be posting throughout the season, so keep coming back for behind-the-scenes talk, thoughts on the game, and more. Take it away, A.J.
What’s up, people? If you’re ready for some fun, welcome to my Ticketmaster Insider column, which I’ll be posting every other week during the NFL season. I’ll take questions from you readers, talk some football, and tell you why I’m a big fan of live entertainment. What I hope you get is an inside look at the life of a NFL player with a wife and two young kids. Stay tuned for a lot of surprises!
So who am I exactly? Time flies by and I’m entering my tenth NFL season, my first with the Cincinnati Bengals after spending 9 great years with the Green Bay Packers, with who I feel very fortunate to have won Super Bowl XLV. But winning that one Championship has only intensified my desire to get another ring. Moving back to my home state of Ohio to play for the Bengals has been exciting, and most of my family lives just a short drive from Paul Brown Stadium.
But before we talk about the new football season, let me tell you about me off the field. When I have time, I love live events, from Columbus Blue Jackets hockey games to the upcoming Ed Sheeran concert (September 17 at Cincinnati’s Riverbend Music Center) that my wife Laura and two other couples are excited to go to. I remember him playing “Thinking Out Loud” at the Grammy Awards with John Mayer on guitar, a very cool performance, and my wife and I have become big fans.
My daughter Lennon, who’s almost five, has been a “Belieber” since she was two. She will also ask me to play Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” and sing it word for word. But if Katy Perry came to town, I’d have to take her. She’s named after the late John Lennon. Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower” is a family favorite and one of the reasons we also named my son Hendrix.
Another question I always get is, “What’s it really like to be an NFL Player?” Generally, the perception of a pro athlete is not really what people think it is. Just like many professions, we know the negative things tend to lead the stories of the day. From my perspective inside the locker room, the majority of athletes are normal young men that truly do care about their families and friends. The difference is that we’re lucky to play an amazing game, and get paid lots of money. This comes with a lot of responsibility to try to set a positive example for the young people who watch our sport. But athletes are going through the same issues as people with everyday jobs.
Season-wise, everybody in the NFL is now 0-0, all 32 teams are saying they want to get to the Super Bowl, and that’s their only goal. To be able to get there and actually win one Vince Lombardi Trophy like I did, well, I definitely have a lot of respect for how difficult the process is — getting to the biggest live sports event in America.
Our season opener is in Oakland September 13, and when I’m in the tunnel, I’m anxious to just get the game started. The warm ups and all that stuff before, it can never go quick enough for me. I just want to get out there, get the first good hit and then settle in and let our preparation and instincts take over.
If you’d like to know about my new Podcasts (The Hawkcast), I’ve got Fox sportscaster Kevin Burkhardt up now and he’s really good. And, if you have the time, also check out my charity site, Hawk’s Locks for Kids. At our annual event in June we raised over $100,000, and we’re planning some “Cut-a-thons” in Cincinnati to raise money and collect donated hair for children who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments. I’ll keep you guys updated on my upcoming Hawkcasts and my charity events during the season.
In upcoming columns, stay tuned for my stories about what it takes to win the Super Bowl, why I love the UFC and enjoy watching Ronda Rousey make history, how as I get older I respect authenticity…and all about growing up with piranhas!
Be sure to catch the Cincinnati Bengals and your favorite NFL team as they charge the gridiron at a stadium near you.